I write this post on the evening of the day on which I left my local church where I have been in leadership for 9 years, and have been the senior minister for 5 years. It has been a great season but we are moving on to new ministry (though I admit I am far from certain what form that will take).
So as I leave church I write to persuade others why you should stay. In true preacher’s style let me offer three things you need from church
3. Fellowship. It’s hard to be a solitary Christian. We are designed to be in family and we need each other. Or, as John wrote in the Bible, how can we say we love God if we don’t love our brothers and sisters? And if we love them we will want to be with them. Don’t stop gathering.
2. Challenge. I often hear people saying that although, for whatever reason, they have disengaged with church, they are still ok with God. Fair enough, perhaps, and call me cynical if you like, but I do question how ok you are. Is it just that you continue to feel loved and accepted? That you still offer up the odd prayer? Good for you. But when did you last hear something from God which challenged your ideas or your practice? When did you feel Him correcting you? When did you get a new insight into some part of the Word, through a sermon or other teaching? I wonder how often, when we miss church for a long time, we get anaesthetised into thinking that we are ok when really we aren’t.
1. Worship. You’ll notice I have reversed the number order of this list – that’s because I’ve put the points in reverse order of importance. Worship goes at the top. Church is, above all, a worshipping community and it is every Christian’s privilege and duty to contribute. Yes you can pray, sing or listen to Hillsongs cds at home, but there is nothing like joining with your family to sing with one voice to glorify God. Make a joyful noise together!
So that’s why, though I have just left a church, I will find another. It may take William and me some time before we work out where God wants us to settle long term, but we will be in church somewhere regularly to maintain our own spiritual fervour and contribute to the joyful noise of worship that goes up from God’s people to the throne of grace.